Jump to content

good solid friendship, now what?


seek_4ever

Recommended Posts

My ex dumped me in July (he and I were together about three years; for what it's worth, he's 58 and I'm 48). The breakup totally crushed me and I behaved badly at first, begging, pleading, etc. In September I finally pulled myself together and since then we have very slowly established what seems like a good solid friendship. We typically see each other once or twice a week and talk maybe once besides that. For a couple of reasons, I'm pretty sure he will never be the one to suggest getting back together as lovers even if he wants to and even if it makes a lot of sense.

 

I've been working on myself to see clearly the things I did wrong and change my behavior, and also to drop my resentment over things he did that hurt me. I'm not the same person I was before the breakup, and I hope I've given him evidence of that. I think we've been getting closer and more comfortable with each other over the past few months, which is very encouraging.

 

My question is: What next? I feel like it's time to move things forward a bit, but I'm very reluctant to risk losing all the ground I've so slowly gained by inadvertently triggering a big dramatic scene. We can talk about most things much more calmly now than we could before, but bringing up getting together again is probably the hardest thing to do, and I'm not sure I could do it perfectly face to face.

 

I am thinking of writing him a short simple letter, telling him that I still love him, apologizing (in general terms--no point in bringing up specifics) for the things I did that disappointed and hurt him when we were together, and telling him that if he ever decides we are worth a fresh start, things would not be the way they were. I have never sent him a paper letter by snail mail, so doing this now will reinforce the idea that things are different. Also, it will not put him on the spot, so he won't feel like he has to respond right away. If I can manage it, I'd like to make a really strong case for the ways we'd be great together without actually asking him to give us another chance, just leaving things in his hands (so he doesn't feel pushed).

 

So, anyone who has read this far, what do you think? Letter vs talking in person, what to say or not to say, etc.? Thanks for any insights you may have to share.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm...I'm not sure that you should do anything. I think it's moving slowly on its own towards that and you should just let it go where it goes.

 

Why do you say he won't initiate? Because of his nature? He might not initiate a full reconciliation, but he may take small steps. Do you see that happening? If so, then let him take them in his own time. Otherwise, you might risk pushing him away and losing this comfortable friendship.

 

If you do write a letter (which I don't think you should do just yet), I wouldn't bring up the past. No need to remind him of the bad things. If you've changed, he should see that already from your current situation. (If he doesn't then you should give him more time to see it.) If anything, I would write a fun, flirty letter to test the waters.

 

P.S.: It's great that you guys have reached that level of comfort and togetherness after a break up. Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to both of you! I think you're right. Right after the breakup I would try to do things like hold his hand...he would of course pull away because he saw that (quite reasonably) as me ignoring his decision about the breakup. Since then I've been kind of wary of overstepping the bounds, but I think it's been long enough that I might be able to flirt a bit and make it seem like moving forward, instead of looking like I'm trying to go back to something he said we couldn't go back to (hope that makes sense).

 

Lilypadgirl, you asked why I think he won't initiate--basically I think it's pride. I do see little signs that he is relaxing more and taking small steps toward me, and your advice about letting things happen in their own time is good.

 

One thing he always says (and I tend to forget) is "Actions speak louder than words." I'm very verbal myself, so I really appreciate the reminders that sometimes it really is best to be patient and let the actions do their work. Maybe what I really need to do is work on my self-confidence some more so I can flirt a bit and come accross as confident and desirable. (Not my style but it's high time I learned, right?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would definitely not write him a letter. Since he's the one who broke up the romance, any ideas of pursuing that again really need to come from him.

 

Two reasons: (1) if you push toward that in any way, he could turn off from feeling pressured--no matter how subtle that pressure may be, (2) even if he went along with your wishes, you'd never feel secure that he was in it with you 100 percent. You'd be living with doubt, which would likely make you come out sideways and confirm his initial reasons for breakup.

 

I appreciate that building consistent rapport over time intuitively feels like a great strategy, but I'm not too sure about that. Often what feels counter-intuitive can be the very thing that thwarts someone from taking you for granted--which can be the kiss of death when you want to be valued.

 

This may not be a popular idea, but I'd actually become less consistent, and even a bit distant at times. I'd start building a bigger life for myself outside of my focus on him, and I'd allow him the space and time to consider how he'd feel about a life without being able to count on me in it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I am going through the exact same thing with my ex. I'm at the "what to do next stage" with him. We are good friends...and I worked really hard at getting us to this point!

 

It's frightening to think of messing it up now. So don't. Don't do anything that will 100% mess it up if it fails. I read online that a lot of people get so close to getting back together with their ex that they suddenly start moving REALLY fast and push their ex away and end up on square one. Don't do this!

 

I suggest testing the waters like everyone else suggested and keep going at the same pace for now. If when you test the waters you get positive results then I would still take things slowly and carefully like you have been doing.

 

You can test him out by doing something that doesn't push him into a relationship with you. Don't hold his hand or anything like that. My test with my ex was to lye down beside him the way we always used to. Usually he will wrap his arms around me, but he didn't this time. What he did do however was lye extremely close to me and even touched me with his hand (perhaps he was testing me to see if I would do anything?)

 

In my opinion I think this was a successful test. He is oviously still considering me as a girlfriend. Maybe not now...but soon.

Put the bait out and see if he chases it, or grabs it...so to speak. Set something up to see how he reacts without giving your true emotions away! If he does chase the bait, hold back still, don't give in. Let him chase you even if it's REALLY SLOW lol.

 

Hope I helped a bit! Congratz on making it this far. So many people can't even make it this far with their ex's because they give into emotions too soon and don't test the waters properly. Slow n steady wins the race!

 

Cheers!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I forgot to mention. Don't write the letter. You will give away all your emotions and however way I see it, it is putting him on the spot. I once had a time similar to yours. I was with my ex one day and things were so perfect. Great weather...great movie we saw together, great laughs we shared so I really felt like cuddling him!

My mind suddenly blanked out and the only thing that I thought of was "Should I cuddle him?...no wait..Should I ask him if we can be together?..." I was seconds away from asking and possibly ruining everything. Luckily I held back, it was so hard. The thing that held me back was realizing how much I would have lost if he said "No".

Think about it, do you want to send a letter and get a big fat NO? I sure wouldn't like that. Or would you rather continue to take things slow and test the waters for now...and go from there?

That day I didn't lose anything. Instead what I gained was him lending me his sweater to stay warm because I was cold, a hug before he left for home, and another hang out that he planned with me.

Much better than losing everything

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I completely agree. I would be very careful that while you think that the two of you are building a better relationship which will lead to getting back together, he may be thinking that it is so nice to have this comfortable friendship without the pressure of a relationship. If he wants to get back together he should be the one suggesting it. Don't imagine that it is pride getting in the way...when a dumper really wants to get back together they don't let pride get in the way..they just do it. Dumpees who desperately want to get back together with the dumper often think in their minds that they have to take the initiative because the dumper has too much pride to do so. Really, that is the desperation talking, not rational thought. I would be careful that this guy now just sees you as a friend...and I would also be careful that you don't put yourself in a situation where you become a friend and sex partner but not his girlfriend. Do you know if he is dating other women?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know what you mean! I have moments where I'm very close to saying something about getting back together and I hold back; maybe that's why we've gotten as far as we have? I guess I'm just getting impatient with slow and steady, and starting to get a little scared that if we don't start really moving forward, we'll just plateau where we are. OTOH, slow and steady has succeeded this far, and I do see small signs that he's very slowly thawing, so you're probably right and it's better to stick with it and avoid losing all the progress I've made. And I hate to think of getting a NO. I was thinking that with a letter, he wouldn't necessarily have to answer at all, especially if I didn't ask for anything, but there's no guarantee he wouldn't respond, and if it were the "wrong" answer, that would really set me back. Anyhow, thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, I don't think he is. He works in another city so his job takes up about 50 hours a week with the commute, and he's renovating his house and involved in various other projects, so he doesn't have much time. He's reasonably open with me about how he spends his time, and more often than not we spend Saturday evening together. If he were seeing someone new, I don't think he'd be spending his Saturday nights with me.

 

I know what you mean about being careful not to misinterpret the situation, and I often wonder whether he views things the way I do. Ultimately time will tell, and in the meanwhile I think everyone's right and it's better not to write the letter. It's hard to articulate why I tend to think that I'm on the right track; basically, he really would do just about anything to avoid appearing vulnerable, and being a pursuer makes you vulnerable. Even when we first started dating, his courtship was very understated in some ways (I was lonely and eager so he didn't have to do much, sigh). He's thin-skinned and will not leave himself open to rejection, especially from me. The way things played out in the past, we got way too serious way too soon, and when I backed off a bit just to get my balance, he interpreted that as rejection. If I'd been smarter and less thin-skinned myself, we could have weathered that, but we got stuck in a lot of bad patterns and resentment; my part in this all seems incredibly stupid to me now--too soon old, too late smart.

 

Sorry, I digress. I know that absence of pursuit now could just mean absence of interest. OTOH, he has never sustained a friendship with an ex before. In fact I don't know very much about any of his prior relationships except his marriage because he never even mentions the names of people he used to date. So the fact that we are still in each other's lives, see each other regularly, hug hello and good-by, etc., gives me hope. If I let the contact drop for a week or so, he gets in touch with me. My gut feeling is that he is lonely but vulnerable and was hurt badly enough that he is going to be very reluctant to move toward even an attractive situation with me unless he has plenty of evidence that things will be different. I was thinking that a low-pressure verbal reassurance would do the job, but that sounds more and more like a bad idea. If I'm right and he is slowly changing his mind about me, I really don't want to blow it. Anyway, thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good points from both of you, thanks! I've thought about trying to find someone else to go out with just as a backup plan, but the dating scene for people of my age in this town is abysmal, and also I would feel kind of funny keeping that option open when I really want to be with my ex. However, I am keeping busy with interesting things and learning new stuff, which I figure can't hurt (keeps me occupied and with any luck shows him a new side of me). I've got a few close friends to hang out with and my older son is in town, so I'm not sitting home alone. I do leave some spaces in our contact and sometimes let things drop for a week or so, and he often gets in touch with me after that, so that's encouraging. Thanks for the good words though; I do need to be careful not to turn into an over-eager puppy dog.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I definitely would not send a letter. He appears "open" to the reconnection, but from what I learned in the process patience, patience, patience. No rushing just allow everything to flow naturally. You two are in a good place because the contact/friendship has been reestablished and he is warming up to spending more time with you.

 

Be patient, he will eventually make the decision if he wants to try again. Just enjoy being in constant contact with him.

 

Good luck!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, this sounds worse and worse as you describe the situation. He never pursued the relationship with you. He assumed that you taking time for you was rejecting him. He pursuied the end of the relationship with you. It sounds like he's always kind of expected for you to do more work in the relationship (not necessarily the friendship). And it doesn't sound like you reached much emotional intimacy (since he did all he could to avoid vulnerability) together, which is rather unfortunate as well.

 

It's clear he values his friendship, but it's not clear that he sees more there. I hate to tell you move on (since you won't), but I do think that there must be a time where you let him know face to face that you'd be interested in a relationship if he was interested and leaving the ball in his court to pursue you (... I'm just doubtful that he will.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're absolutely right about the level of emotional intimacy. I know this is not the ideal relationship, but on the other hand, I love him, I understand him fairly well, we have nearly four years of history together, and we have a lot in common (similar family backgrounds, levels of education, interests, political and religious views, etc.). He and I met through an online dating site, and in my profile I said I was looking for intellectual stimulation, physical passion, and emotional intimacy. Given the circumstances, settling for two out of three is fine with me.

 

It's not exactly that he didn't pursue me at all in the beginning; it was just that he never made a move or asked anything of me until after I made it very obvious that I was waiting to be asked. He never took a chance and left himself open to rejection. That does leave me to be the vulnerable one.

 

The breakup initiated in a terrible argument late one Friday night when I was exhausted and never should have let the conversation get started. I had been thinking that we needed to clear the air about some things (nothing that would in itself have been fatal) but I was anxious about how it would go and picked a truly horrendous time to do it rather than waiting for a better moment, and the conversation went off the rails almost immediately. In the past we had had a couple of off-again on-again near-breakups, and he was determined not to let this be just another round of that. I would like him to know that if we reconcile, I am not asking him to get back on that roller coaster.

 

I really like what people have said about gradually warming things up (the candlelight dinner, being flirty and fun) and trying to move things forward without getting bogged down in the past again. OTOH, I worry that he is consciously resisting such things as a matter of principle and needs some cue from me (an apology, a statement that things will be different, I don't know) to relax his resistance. Right after the breakup, he was very much on his guard against us just drifting back together. He's mellowed a good bit, but I don't know how much.

 

Thanks again for all the insights, everyone. I really appreciate it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From everything you described, it seems like he is a very proud person. People that are very proud can be very exhausting to be in a relationship with as you always have to be the one to make concessions. Sometimes even inaction can be read as rejection.

 

Still, I don't think you should do anything. You need to be really patient with him. Let him take the steps forward, but be encouraging when he does. Proud people don't like being pressured or even influenced as they like to be in control (sorry for generalizing, just speaking from experience). So you need to be accommodating.

 

I completely agree with the other posters that say you should also go out and meet new people. You should do that even if you're working on helping this friendship turn back into a relationship. It'll help you be more patient and at the same time give you other opportunities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really like what people have said about gradually warming things up (the candlelight dinner, being flirty and fun) and trying to move things forward without getting bogged down in the past again. OTOH, I worry that he is consciously resisting such things as a matter of principle and needs some cue from me (an apology, a statement that things will be different, I don't know) to relax his resistance. Right after the breakup, he was very much on his guard against us just drifting back together. He's mellowed a good bit, but I don't know how much.

 

Thanks again for all the insights, everyone. I really appreciate it.

 

I think what you should worry about is really if he wants you. People aren't all that complicated ... and if they are, you don't want to be with them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...